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Alternatives to the HP system?

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Hi there, I''m sorry if this has been brought up recently before, but I''d really like to know of better alternatives to that over-used idea of hit points. Specifically for an RPG, which is probably going to be partially based on twitch and tactics (but any ideas at all are welcome). If I have different damage for different body parts they still have HP each. Isn''t there a better way?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
but here are one or two.

Can''t die, but game over if some defeat conditions are met (ie. not save the girl) like ICO.

Regenerates health quickly but will die if have several consecutive hits in a short space of time / or shot. No hit points shown. Forbidden Siren.

Regenerates slowly.. can lead to ''sandwich break'' gameplay where you hide and go for a cup of tea til your character is at full health.

Limited regeneration. health regenerates up to a point. ie. 1/3 or 1/4 of your full health. Past this point you need to use some form of healing / shield boosting.


There must be other ideas though. Haven''t seen many action games or RPGs where hit-points aren''t used.

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Use a fuzzy hp graph like in the fighting system in Shenmue...

That''s just my $0.000000000000000000000002



"TV IS bad Meatwad...but we f***in need it"

If you''re a girl under the age of 12, and you''re high on marijuana...don''t ride your bike. -TRUTH

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I''ve thought about doing a system where you attempt to model the way the human body works. If you get cut on the arm, you will lose blood. Lose enough blood, you pass out. If you get hit hard on the leg, the leg breaks and you can''t use it.

Yes, this still comes down to some kind of "HP", in that you need something internal to check if a leg is broken or just bruised, but at least the mechanic is hidden from the user.

I like it because it''s a bit more realistic, and you can have more interesting hits than "You are hit for 9 points".

On the flip side, it is complex, and the user may have trouble with the system. Hit points are really easy: when they get low, you''re almost dead. They''re easier to display with a colored bar or numbers.

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This most certainly has been discussed before, and at great length, but since I''m unable to search up any of the old threads ("HP" isn''t a valid search word), I won''t give you a hard time about asking the question again. If anyone can find links to the older discussions on HP alternatives, then by all means post them for us. In the meantime, I''ve prepared an impromptu dissertation on the topic.

HP is a complex little variable. Obviously, it''s a little strange to see someone getting hit in the face with an axe, losing a few dozen HP, and then continuing to fight at 100% combat effective status. It makes HP look pretty dumb. But HP measures more than just the structural integrity of your skeleton, the durabiilty of your skin, and your character''s tolerance for pain and blood loss.

HP is a stand-in for ideas like James-Bond-luck, clever dodging or blocking, stamina and intestinal fortitude. Two equally matched swordsmen fighting one-on-one might not hit each other for a long time, but every attack will wear at them just a little bit. Dodging, blocking, and otherwise engaging in physical confrontation cannot be maintained indefinitely, and HP reflects that human finitude. Even if there''s no way that a guy could walk up and stick a knife in you, that doesn''t mean that you can stand there and dodge or block that guy''s knife forever. So a sword wound that does ten HP of damage isn''t necessarily a wound at all. Maybe that character isn''t even bleeding until they hit 0 HP, at which point the very next blow slides between their ribs and snuffs them.

That is a possible starting point for HP. With PnP RPGs, it''s a pain in the butt to do all the math for things like stamina, parries, and such and such. So instead they used a single variable, called "hit points" to determine whether and how hard you got hit. With computers and their nearly limitless calculative powers, designers have begun to model these other events. Sometimes in FF6 a little shield will appear in front of your character and no damage will be done, or a sword will flash out to parry the blow. These events are mae redundant by the persistence of the HP meter. They are simulating an event that the HP already models, and so the character gets two ways to enact the same defensive maneuver.

That is not the only example of such a redundancy. Many games have started to show things like blows and dodges, and by doing so they have turned Hp into a simple energy meter, shwing how much fuel the character has in their tank. Now, what once was a character dodging an arrow has become that same character deflecting it with his iron skin, his magnetic shield. He is unscathed by the blade or bludgeon, and the only evidince that the attack took place at all is the decrease in voltage to the magical aura that protects him from bodily harm. This is nonsense.

So far, games have featured modifications of the HP system. HP has been the centerpiece, and things like parries, ripostes and evasions have been added in as additional tweaks or features. HP has formed the body of the damage system and a new framework of skill-based defenses and reactions has been constructed around it. This framework, this new model, is so close to completion that we can remove the HP fossil and let it stand on its own, adding or subtracting features and elements to make it stronger, faster, and more elegant than the thing it replaces.

Now that characters use sword and shield to turn blows, and can evade of their own accord, HP has become a relic, an anachronism. We don''t need to replace HP with some other number. HP has already been replaced by a large constellation of possibilities and mathematical algorithms. All we need to do now is remove the vestigial system and set about balancing the replacements. Take out HP and adjust the probabilities associated with dodging, blocking and absorbing to fill its role more completely.

That''s the new HP system. It''s already there, veiled behind the corpse of its ancestor. We don''t need to build it; it''s already built. We need only chip away the chrysalis of petrified HP to discover it.

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I disagree that HP needs to be replaced. I think having a single guage is a tremedous advantage for the player, rather than having to go to a menu and lookup the individual body parts to see how damaged they are. What can be done is to offer different insights into how HP is used.

For instance, if HP is a variable between 0 and 20, and the average hit does between 5 and 10, then HP is a crucial and critical number for the player to manage

Another, is that HP could be a sum of all of the body part''s HPs, and depending on how the player is hit, different parts lose that HP, but the main sum is still visible to the player at all times. When a part has hit 0HP, a status effect drops on the player, like inability to dodge from the left, or whatnot.

And third is to have a secondary HP meter dropped on top, like Protoss Shields (starcraft). It recovers quickly, but the main HP never does. This puts the demand on the player to not screw up when the secondary meter is low.

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I quite like the system used by UFO - Enemy Unknown.

It was essentially a HP system but with some important modifications:

- Each part of the body was handled separately
- Being hit in different places had different effects. Being hit on the legs would slow you down, hands would decrease fire accuracy etc
- It had the concept of "fatal wounds" - these would cause the soldier to die unless he had medical attention soon.
- You could not entirely recover HP during a battle, but medikits could cure fatal wounds and partially recover HP
- Being wounded also affects the soldier''s morale (makes him more likely to panic) and makes him more likely to succumb to being unconcious (from smoke inhalation, for example)
- Being unconcious happened when the HP got below a certain point anyway. However the nice friendly aliens never attacked your men as they lay bleeding on the floor; they patiently waited to be killed off so their mates could come and rescue them. Fortunately it was fairly unlikely to shoot soldiers on the floor by accident (grenades could easily kill them though)

Fully recovering hit points was always possible, but in some cases could take months (of game time). During this time the soldier still needed wages paying (and frequently got promoted to a higher rank if he was useful in battle). Injured personnel could not be delpoyed.

This all works well in a turn-based game where you have plenty of time to think about what to do. It would not be so hot in a realtime game, as it could be a lot too complicated for the player to figure out.

Mark

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You could use an injury system. Each hit causes an injury each injury has an effect. The invetibale result of to many injurires is death.

For instance your hit buy a sword slash and the injury you recive is a cut. A cut cause you to lose a point of blood each round. If you lose 10 points of blood you suffer the injury stage one blood lose, which causes -1 strength.

Injuries would stacks so getting hit 4 times by a sword might result in 2 cuts, a missing ear and stab through the stomach.

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I think a single, simple modification to the ''standard'' HP system that would be interesting would be to make HP static. In other words, you start with X HP and you don''t magically get more each level. At best, you might get an extra HP every 10 or 15 levels, but it would be a miniscule difference instead of the huge leaps and bounds HP take in many RPG games.

To compensate for that change, you''d need many other variables to take the place of what HP used to represent (which IMO was too much). You''re definitely going to need armor (be it plate mail or ceramic anti-ballistics) to be important, and you''ll probably want some kind of stamina stat to track characters getting tired from too much fighting without rest and the like. Next, you''ll need to add support for actually blocking/parrying blows with you sword/shield/etc. You''d probably need a few more variables as well, representing luck/''karma'' and things like that.

More complex, but I think its a better system where a good sword hit can take just about anybody down (the key is to not get hit through deflecting/doding/parying/blocking/luck). It would probably be boring for most people though since they want to see blood and action rather than just 50000 parries (though you could try to make it feel like hollywood swordfights).

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quote:
Original post by Extrarius
I think a single, simple modification to the ''standard'' HP system that would be interesting would be to make HP static. In other words, you start with X HP and you don''t magically get more each level. At best, you might get an extra HP every 10 or 15 levels, but it would be a miniscule difference instead of the huge leaps and bounds HP take in many RPG games.

To compensate for that change, you''d need many other variables to take the place of what HP used to represent (which IMO was too much). You''re definitely going to need armor (be it plate mail or ceramic anti-ballistics) to be important, and you''ll probably want some kind of stamina stat to track characters getting tired from too much fighting without rest and the like. Next, you''ll need to add support for actually blocking/parrying blows with you sword/shield/etc. You''d probably need a few more variables as well, representing luck/''karma'' and things like that.

More complex, but I think its a better system where a good sword hit can take just about anybody down (the key is to not get hit through deflecting/doding/parying/blocking/luck). It would probably be boring for most people though since they want to see blood and action rather than just 50000 parries (though you could try to make it feel like hollywood swordfights).
I agree with this. I definitely go for static HP. You start with 100 HP and that''s your HP for the rest of the game. However, you also have other points to help you out in battles, and these points are the indicator that you get stronger. More stamina, better dodge skill, higher accuracy, higher chance of making a powerful blow, the effectiveness of using shield, etc.

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